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Agri Leap for J&K: 9 lakh KCCs unlock whopping Rs 7,000 Cr farm finance

12:41 AM Apr 01, 2024 IST | MUKEET AKMALI
agri leap for j k  9 lakh kccs unlock whopping rs 7 000 cr farm finance
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Srinagar, Mar 31: Jammu and Kashmir have made significant strides in expanding institutional credit to the agriculture sector, with banks issuing an impressive 9,18,322 active Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs) as of September 30, 2023.

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The outstanding credit against these KCCs stands at a staggering Rs 7,083 crore.

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The latest figures, disclosed during the J&K Bankers Level Committee meeting, reveal a robust acceleration in agricultural credit disbursal. In the first half of the current financial year 2023-24 alone, banks have issued 24,957 fresh KCCs, amounting to Rs 276.59 crore.

The Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme was introduced in 1998 to issue Kisan Credit Cards to farmers on the basis of their holdings for uniform adoption by the banks so that farmers may use them to readily purchase agriculture inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc. and draw cash for their production needs. The scheme was further extended for the investment credit requirement of farmers viz. allied and non-farm activities in the year 2004.

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While the surge in KCC issuance is commendable, some challenges remain on the processing front. Data indicates that 902 cases are currently pending with banks for the disposal of KCC applications, with J&K Bank alone accounting for 631 pending cases.

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As per minutes of the meeting, addressing these concerns, the MD & CEO of J&K Bank emphasised the need for joint efforts between banks and the agriculture production department to provide KCC coverage to all farmers registered under the PM Kisan scheme. Although the government's 'GharGhar KCC Abhiyan' initiative targets left-out PM Kisan beneficiaries, a foolproof plan is required to track and include all eligible farmers missed so far.

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"One key issue highlighted was the non-inclusion of walnut growers under the KCC scheme due to their lack of land ownership, as they cultivate on government land. The Chief General Manager of NABARD suggested convening a meeting with the Horticulture Department and J&K UTLBC to find a solution."

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"To accelerate KCC penetration, the meeting resolved that each bank branch would have a target of issuing at least 5 new KCCs per month on an ongoing basis. Additionally, banks were directed to leverage the RBI's digital platform for 100% KCC saturation and ensure the issuance of RuPay Debit Cards to all KCC holders," the official document reads.

"Furthermore, the J&K UTLBC meeting emphasised the need for close collaboration between banks and various line departments, such as Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, and Fisheries, to identify prospective borrowers and sanction suitable credit limits under the KCC scheme. Recognising the horticulture sector's importance, all banks will undertake special efforts to provide adequate loans to apple growers, reducing their reliance on traders for advances. Banks will also report separately on short-term and long-term loans provided to apple growers, processors, reefer vans, controlled atmosphere stores, and cold storage," reads a note of the minutes of the meeting of UTLBC.

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